Going Wild at Dunscar Woods

20th September 2020

Dunscar Wood is a new woodland near Egerton, Bolton. The wood occupies 5.7 hectares of what was formerly green fields which were bought by the Woodland Trust in 1998 as part of their millennial Woodlands on Your Doorstep project. Old maps do show a small patch of woods in the area but not of any great size or significance.

The Dunscar Wood Management plan says that in 1999 wood was planted with a mix of sessile oak, ash, birch, cherry, rowan, aspen, holly, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn and goat willow. Mature sycamore is also present and is thought to be a remnant of previous field boundaries. However, while we were working we noticed that most of the oak was pedunculate oak not sessile, as pedunculate is a low land species we were a bit bemused by its presence.

Pedunculate Oak

Birch

New woodlands such as this are often planted quite densely with new stock, with 2 to 3 metres between each tree. Although there is always some loss through animal grazing, disease such as ash die back, and climatic conditions, the trees take up more room as they grow and need to be thinned out. This is where BCV came in in October 2019 on our Halloween task.

The Woodland Trust are thinning trees, not just to reduce the herd, but to improve the structure of the woodland as part of the management plan for the site. One of the problems of planting lots of trees at once is the lack of age structure, hence the mix of long lived trees such as oak and short life-spanned species such as birch. The Trust envisages that over the next 80 years the short lived species will die off and provide standing deadwood and fallen logs which will benefit a range of bird and invertebrate species improving biodiversity in an area of Bolton with limited tree cover and species mix. Natural regeneration should make the new woodland self sustaining; gaps in the canopy will benefit woodland floor flora.

So, BCV are on the loose again in Dunscar Wood. This task was originally planned for February 2020 but was put back by storm something or other. Along comes Autumn and we had to abandon again for local lockdown, however, we are a group of volunteers doing necessary work on behalf of a charity we got to OK from the Woodland Trust and so could continue with the task at hand.

Prior to the task BCV submitted a full and comprehensive risk assessment and received permission from the Woodland Trust for the task to continue.

So, six socially distance volunteers, behaving responsibly and suitably sanitised, set about removing trees marked up by the Woodland Trust. The felling was done by our chainsaw team and each felled tree was cut up and stacked into habitat piles by one person each. The job went well so thanks to all concerned for doing great work.